Eduvation Blog

Plans for Fall 2021

In early 2021, CdnPSE institutions started making a flurry of announcements about plans for program delivery in the Fall 2021 term. They are reproduced here in chronological order, as they appeared in the Eduvation Insider newsletter. (For a colour-coded spreadsheet of CdnPSE announcements, see column AB of our Canadian Data.)


Feb 24, 2021: Optimism for Fall

Many students want the full campus experience, so a key driver of Fall 2021 enrolment will be the nature of program delivery. (There is more reason to be optimistic than ever before, with vaccines rolling out and of course the second wave subsiding with the arrival of spring – but rising variants and uncertainty about their resistance to the vaccine could still sideswipe us.) At this point, it seems reasonable to hope for the best in September, while planning for contingencies…

uAlberta announced yesterday that it plans “to welcome a significantly increased number of our university community members back to our campuses this autumn” and is optimistic that vaccination, masks and social distancing will allow it “to safely offer face-to-face undergraduate and graduate courses, research, and related support services.” UofA expects to continue with a combination of in-person and remote delivery, using “larger spaces for smaller classes.” Course specifics will be determined by Apr 26, and course registration will be delayed until mid-May. “By January 2022, if not sooner, we anticipate being back to our regular campus routines.” The Quad

Concordia U announced yesterday that, although the province has been urging a return to in-class instruction asap, it will maintain online classes this summer, with some exceptions for teaching labs, courses or studio work. “Students can expect more campus access this summer” for optional activities, and there may be in-person final exams in some courses. The Jun 17 convocation will be virtual. A decision for Fall term will be announced in early May.  Montreal Gazette

SAIT announced recently that the majority of Spring/Summer programming will be delivered online, “supported by virtual meeting technology and simulations.” (Updates about Fall 2021 will be posted “as soon as the information becomes available.”)  SAIT

McGill U announced yesterday “that McGill will return to in-person teaching beginning in Fall 2021. While some components of courses will harness the pedagogical benefits of online teaching, students and teaching staff should plan for a return to more regular rhythms of on-campus academic activity by September.” Student residences will be open, and the first-year housing guarantee will return. Admin and support staff will progressively return to campus, “with the goal of achieving a regular presence” by Sept.  McGill


CdnPSE Announcements to Date

I may have missed a few, but as you know I’ve been sharing CdnPSE announcements about Fall 2021 as they are made public, and keeping track of the wording in my master spreadsheet. So far, many institutions have indicated it is still too early to tell (which is true), but 5 are planning for blended delivery or a gradual return to campus this Fall (Algonquin, RRC, Ryerson, Toronto, Windsor). These announcements came earliest from cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg in the midst of lockdown at the time. Another 9 universities have announced an intention to more fully return to campus (Alberta, Brock, Dalhousie, Laurier, McGill, McMaster, Redeemer, Trent, and York). In the spreadsheet, you’ll see these schools marked in green in column “AB.”

On the other hand, there is some remarkable caution in the K-12 sector…

Calgary Catholic School District says online learning will continue to be an option for families in the 2021-22 school year. It has 6,000 elementary students registered in its K-9 online school, St Isidore, and 1,500 registered for online high school. “What we’re doing is forward thinking here. We know that the vaccine is getting rolled out, but the vaccine has not been approved for students or children under 16 at this point in time.” So far, 3,400 out of 18,130 students (19%) have moved back to in-person learning this spring. Parents must make their decision for Fall by the end of March.  CBC

Ottawa Catholic School Board has announced the creation of 3 “permanent” virtual schools for September, to include virtual extracurricular and sporting activities. Although Ontario is planning for in-person schooling this Fall, the OCSB says “a small number of students learn best in the online environment.” Interested families must sign up by Feb 25.  Ottawa Citizen

American K-12 schools are still planning for the possibility of more remote learning this Fall. Joe Biden has made reopening schools a priority, but vaccines are not yet available to most teachers and may not be available for young children until late spring or early summer. In the long term, some expect to see an “all-remote option” for students.  ABC News

“There’s going to be some element of the genie not being able to be put back in the bottle. I think that there now will always be a group of families who want a virtual option… We know we’re able to, but are we willing to do it?”Brian Woods, Superintendent, Northside Independent School District, Texas


To sum up: Hopefully CdnPSE will be back “in the pink” by getting back to campus, at least in part, by September. (We should also be ready for hybrid/flexible means of delivery, should the worst case scenario arise with COVID19 variants.) But for fall international recruitment, and hence institutional finances, to be back in the pink too, we need to sort out visa processing times right away, communicate clearly about quarantine protocols and vaccination progress, and ensure we’re offering students meaningful work-integrated learning opportunities.

Feb 26 2021: Fall Plans (Postscript)

In the past few days there’s been a deluge of CdnPSE announcements about plans for Summer and Fall 2021 (see my master spreadsheet for more details.)

Algonquin College announced yesterday that it will “extend the cancellation of all on-campus events until August 31, 2021” (or will deliver Spring term courses online).  AC

Aurora College (NWT) announced earlier this month that it is planning to offer “most programs and courses” F2F for the 2021-22 academic year, starting this Fall, but will “continue to offer enhanced programming by distance” for some programs and courses.  Aurora

Ontario Tech announced Wednesday that “plans are underway to offer courses on campus that have experiential components” this Fall, as well as small tutorials or graduate seminars, where PHO permits, but “we expect to continue holding most medium to large classes in a virtual format.” ONTech

uOttawa announced Wednesday that “planning has started for a revitalized campus experience for the Fall 2021 term.” They have “an ambitious plan to provide a full, enriching on-campus experience with an increase in in-person and hybrid learning formats.” Students will be offered “increased residence options and greater access to many on-campus co-curricular, community and wellness activities.” “Every effort will be made to accommodate students who do not or cannot attend in person to continue their programs at distance.”  uOttawa

UPEI says it is planning a return to a “more normal” academic experience this Fall. Some online options will continue, but with as much F2F as possible. A survey of UPEI students found significant mental health and academic challenges during emergency remote instruction. (Summer session will remain largely online.)  CBC


Mar 11, 2021: Fall Plans (Part 3)

I knew I would eventually come to regret listing all of these as they came along, but I certainly didn’t expect 50+ announcements within 3 days! Here is the latest crop, largely from Alberta…

Coast Mountain College is “planning for enhanced fall programming” and a “revitalized campus experience for the Fall 2021 term,” with “an increase in in-person and hybrid learning formats.” Every effort will be made to accommodate students who cannot or do not wish to attend in person.  CMTN

Concordia U of Edmonton president Tim Loreman says in this 5-min video that CUE “is going to try to be back on campus as much as we possibly can,” and that “it may even be a full return to campus.” “It will not be online as it has been.”  YouTube

Fanshawe College “plans to expand F2F instruction and return to more of its vibrant on-campus student experiences” for Fall. “More small classes, labs and practical instruction will again be offered in person, with appropriate safety protocols in place.” Fanshawe is again offering a “student experience guarantee” this fall, allowing students to “try Fanshawe for 10 days risk free.”  Fanshawe

Lethbridge College president Paula Burns says in a 1.5-min video that “we’re looking forward to welcoming even more [students] back to campus this fall, for safe interactive learning experiences.” “We’re ready for fall.”  YouTube

uLethbridge is finalizing details on a “significantly expanded personal experience” for Fall, including among “many options” a full reopening of campus. (All adult Albertans have been promised the opportunity for a vaccine shot by Jun 30.) “Regardless of whether we are able to fully reopen or not, we are planning to have many more in-person experiences for our students this fall. For that reason, we are encouraging our students to make plans to be in Lethbridge for September 2021.” Residences will more than double their occupancy from last year.  UL

Mount Royal U is planning to welcome students back to campus in September. President Tim Rahilly says “It’s our intention to be back as face-to-face as we can be.” Calgary Herald

Okanagan College president Allan Coyle is “looking forward to a more normal year ahead,” although exactly what that will look like is still being worked out.  Global


The flurry of optimistic announcements this week is unprecedented throughout this pandemic – even last spring, when I predicted many of the plans would have to be changed, they were nonetheless announced across many weeks. This time around, in just a few days, 70% of BC institutions in my list have now announced, along with 33% in Alberta, 38% in Ontario, 66% in New Brunswick, and 70% in Nova Scotia. Other provinces and territories have either just one, or no announcements so far. (See a colour-coded summary in my master spreadsheet, column AB.)


Mar 16, 2021: Fall Plans (Part 4)

If you’ve been paying attention, you will notice that virtually every CdnPSE is promising “increased” on-campus instruction in September, and “hoping” for a return to full in-person activities. (See my master spreadsheet for colour-coded announcements.) While BC expects to have all young adults vaccinated by July, other parts of Canada may be waiting until late September or October – making certainty a challenge at this point. McMaster U, one of Canada’s leading medical institutions, has a reassuringly cautious position on the matter…

Algonquin College president Claude Brulé wrote last week that, “with vaccination rollouts, we remain optimistic and hopeful for increased face-to-face teaching delivery options” this fall. Ultimately that will be subject to PHO decisions.  Algonquin

Capilano U is “planning for maximum in-person classes and activities at our campuses and learning locations in September,” following PHO Bonnie Henry’s direction last week.  North Shore News

Conestoga College already has ~5,500 students learning in-person on campus, and president John Tibbits says that for September, “the question is not whether the college will be open or not, it’s a question of how far, how much further we can go.” He does not think the college will be completely open by Fall, and thinks recent PSE announcements have been “too optimistic and focused on marketing.”  CBC

Holland College (PEI) is promising full-time on-campus classes for all students this fall, although class sizes will be smaller and masks will still be required indoors. Students and faculty will be divided into cohorts of up to 50, and scheduled to minimize interaction between cohorts. Some blended learning will be provided too.  CBC

Loyalist College “is planning for a safe return to campus and in-person learning” this fall, writes president Ann Marie Vaughan – although “we will be prepared to shift once again to multiple forms of delivery upon the advice of HPE Public Health.”  Loyalist

McMaster U has “tremendous optimism” that vaccines will allow a return to campus classrooms and residences this fall, but recognizes that the pandemic is “a dynamic situation,” and although other institutions have been making announcements, “we don’t want to overpromise on a bunch of items that we think we can’t deliver on.” A decision will be made in April, but “realistically we’re looking at a blended environment.”  Hamilton Spectator

Mohawk College president Ron McKerlie is “hopeful” for more F2F learning this fall, but “we expect there will still be some restrictions in place that will limit our on-campus activities.” Plans will be announced by Mar 31.  Hamilton Spectator

North Island College is preparing for “more in-person learning on campus” this September, as recommended by PHO Bonnie Henry. NIC will deliver programs “on campus, digitally and a blend of both on campus and digital learning.”  Education News Canada

Redeemer U plans to continue offering courses through “dual delivery” this fall, allowing students to participate in the classroom and synchronously online.  Hamilton Spectator

uWaterloo is still developing a plan for Fall 2021. Associate Provost Chris Read says, “the planning is certainly underway, but we haven’t committed to any specific direction yet. The message that we’re hearing loud and clear is that the vast majority of [students] are looking forward to getting back on campus, in-person, so they can have that community and their peers, and that face-to-face interaction that’s so important in the learning environment.”  CBC


March 19, 2021: Fall Plans (Part 5)

Collective optimism is gaining real momentum in CdnPSE for a return to on-campus instruction in September, fuelled by the promise of herd immunity and the confidence that comes from herd decision-making. (Announcements come easier when dozens of comparators have already done so, or when PHOs encourage it.) I’ve assembled all the Fall 2021 announcements since Feb 24 on a single page here, if you want to check something out easily. Here are the latest…

Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides, announced yesterday that he encourages Alberta PSEs “to prepare for a full return to on-campus learning this September.” (Note that the announcement is coming from Alberta’s AvEd minister, not the PHO.) The province’s immunization program plans to offer a shot to every adult Albertan by Jun 30.  CBC

Assiniboine Community College is “planning to offer as much on-campus activity as safely as possible” this Fall.  CBC

Brandon U is currently planning for the Fall term, and all options are being considered. “The goal is to announce a course of action that doesn’t require any backtracking.”  CBC

Lakeland College is “preparing to welcome students back to campus” this Fall, “if it is safe to do so.” >90% of Lakeland students participated in F2F learning over the past year, and Lakeland was 1 of only 2 Alberta colleges to offer full-time F2F trades training.  Education News Canada

uManitoba president Michael Benarroch announced Wednesday that UM is planning a “phased-in reopening of its campus to students and staff” starting this Fall, in anticipation of a “full return” to F2F in early 2022. Classes with a maximum of 20 students can proceed with in-person instruction, while large lectures will continue with remote delivery. Departments can begin planning for up to 40% of staff to return to campus over the summer.  Winnipeg Free Press


“Our past experience has taught us that we need to remain cautious. The situation can change quickly, but this is what we believe is safe based on what we know right now.” Michael Benarroch, president, uManitoba


Mount Allison U president Jean-Paul Boudreau wrote yesterday that the MtA community should celebrate a successful academic year, with just 2 cases of COVID19 despite bringing 75% of the total student population to Sackville. The promise of “expedient vaccination” and the return of the “Atlantic bubble” next month allows “the opportunity to begin planning for an orderly and safe return to campus for the majority of University operations, staff members, and students, this summer.” For Fall 2021, MtA will provide “as much on-campus academic programming as possible.”  MtA

Niagara College announced yesterday a “significant increase in on-campus learning” for September. “The college is reviewing programs for increased on-campus classes and labs, focused on safety, academic quality and student experience.” Throughout the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms, almost half of NC students have experienced some degree of F2F learning. Specifics for each program will be provided in early May.  NC

Royal Roads U announced yesterday that it is “planning for a return to on-campus programming starting in September 2021.”  RRU

uSaskatchewan vice-provost of teaching and learning, Patti McDougall, told the UofS Council (essentially the academic senate) yesterday that the Fall 2021 term is expected to be a “transitional period” prior to a more normal Winter 2022 term. “It’s an understatement for me to say this is a changing landscape.”  Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

uWaterloo has now announced that they have started planning for “significantly expanded in-person” instruction this Fall. (Just a week ago, UW said they had not committed to any specific plans as yet.) “Many of us will be returning to campus life this year as we all can play a role in creating a dynamic and responsive environment for our students.”  UW


“The recent news of an increase in the number of vaccines across Canada is giving us reason for new hope… We are optimistic that on-campus activity can happen in person with a staged and strategic return to campus. Above all, our plan will be flexible so we can tackle unexpected challenges.”Feridun Hamdullahpur, president, uWaterloo



March 22, 2021: Fall Plans (Part 6)

More and more CdnPSEs are jumping on the bandwagon with relatively optimistic announcements of “increased” in-person delivery starting in September. There’s been a steady stream over the past month. Since Friday, there have been 6 more, particularly in Alberta in response to the minister’s encouragement…

Bishop’s U president Michael Goldbloom emailed the campus community on Friday to announce senate’s recommendation for a return to campus for 2021-22. Bishop’s is planning “for a full return to on-campus teaching and learning,” although programs may offer up to 20% of their courses online or hybrid, “to ensure that international students who are not able to secure a study permit” can begin or continue their studies.

U Canada West is “thrilled to announce that we are preparing for a full return to on-campus learning for the Fall 2021 term.”  Twitter

MacEwan U’s provost wrote Friday that “we will be able to make greater use of our facilities this Fall,” subject to PHO guidelines, “to maximize every opportunity to bring you back to campus for face-to-face activities.” Currently MacEwan is timetabling courses for F2F classroom delivery, but “we will be able to seamlessly move between face-to-face and online delivery of classes,” and “many online modules of our courses will remain central to our instructional activities.”  MacEwan

NAIT’s provost responded to the government’s message last week by clarifying that NAIT “will reintroduce in-person classroom learning and services for students this fall as health guidelines allow,” while also considering its “strategic direction” and the need for “individual approaches.” She emphasizes that NAIT has been working “to understand how hands-on, physical approaches can work together with engaging virtual approaches as we innovate for the future.”  NAIT

“NAIT has been offering in-person instruction in shops and labs throughout the pandemic, and we are heartened by the Minister’s acknowledgement of the value of individual approaches. This is critical for NAIT given the work we’re doing to understand how hands-on, physical approaches can work together with engaging virtual approaches as we innovate for the future.”Sue Fitzsimmons, VP Academic & Provost, NAIT


Portage College is “planning to be back on campus as much as possible in Fall 2021,” and hopes that “vaccinations will allow us to be at full capacity” – but asks students “to remain patient” as plans are finalized.  Portage

Ryerson U president Mohamed Lachemi wrote last Thursday that “we are continuing to actively plan for a number of scenarios for the 2021-22 academic year, including in-person, virtual and hybrid approaches. While many details continue to evolve, at this time the university is optimistic that we will be able to safely open our campus to some degree in the fall,” and that “on-campus activities will return to normal at Ryerson for our winter term in January 2022.” Ryerson’s goal is to provide a “thorough update” by Jun 9.  RU


Mar 23, 2021: More Plans for Fall

CdnPSE has been announcing upbeat plans for Fall 2021 over the past month. (See the complete summary on a single page here.) Since yesterday there have been 5 more:

uGuelph interim provost Gwen Chapman announced yesterday that they are “planning for flexibility” because the COVID19 landscape “remains dynamic and ever-changing.” Vaccination progress and PHO advice “give us confidence that we can plan for a vibrant on-campus experience in the fall. We are planning to offer as many face-to-face classes, labs and other student experiences as possible.” Some faculty will likely “leverage remote technologies and learning approaches that have proven effective” for blended and hybrid delivery.  uGuelph

McGill U was among the first in Canada to announce an intention to return to on-campus learning this Fall, way back on Feb 23. Yesterday they clarified that the Quebec government expects “all students” to be on campus this fall (since high-risk individuals will be vaccinated long before that), and that McGill “does not plan on implementing a hybrid model.” Details of their working scenarios, presented at a Mar 12 town hall, include 2 “realistic” scenarios with teaching “mainly on-campus” (except classes >150), with or without 1m distancing, but with mandatory masks indoors. “Flex spaces” are planned on campus, to permit students to participate in noisy video calls.  McGill Daily

St Lawrence College confirmed yesterday its “intention to be primarily F2F for program delivery and to restore in-person campus services where possible for September.” The decision is dependent upon physical distancing requirements.  SLC

“I am thrilled at the prospect of seeing more of our students and employees back on campus… This is not a time for ‘we’ve always done it this way,’ but rather an opportunity to innovate where possible, to continue helping our students achieve their academic goals.”Glenn Vollebregt, President & CEO, St Lawrence College


St Thomas U president Dawn Russell announced yesterday that “we are seeing positive signs indicating the possibility of a more traditional return to campus in September,” such as the reopening of the Atlantic Bubble and a return to high school classes in NB in April, and the province’s goal to vaccinate every New Brunswicker by the end of June. “Students should expect to return to campus unless something significant changes with Public Health’s direction and guidelines.” Planning is nonetheless considering a range of options.  STU

SAIT’s VP academic, Brad Donaldson, announced yesterday that a working group is considering various scenarios for Fall, but “with great optimism” they hope to have more students on campus and to see an increase in on-campus activities. He adds that innovative teaching approaches “are helping guide new ways of delivering programs.”  SAIT

“The world of work you are entering has changed in ways we couldn’t have foreseen even a year ago, and it’s our commitment that your SAIT education will prepare you for what the future holds. We are focused on moving forward and finding new ways for you to learn and grow — ensuring all our students are career-ready.”Brad Donaldson, VP Academic, SAIT


And if the 70-odd announcements from CdnPSE I’ve tracked so far aren’t enough to persuade you, but you’re waiting for bigger guns to make the call…

Harvard announced yesterday it will reopen campus to all faculty, staff and researchers on Aug 2, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences expects a “full return to campus,” a return to in-person learning and full-density in campus housing. “Though final decisions will not be available until late May.”


Mar 25, 2021: Plans for a Vaccinated Fall

Higher ed has been continuing to make optimistic announcements about their plans for the Fall 2021 term. (Check out all of them on a single page here.) Some of the latest in Alberta and Ontario include…

Concordia U of Edmonton is planning “a significant return to campus this fall” and “a near full return to in-person learning experiences.” However, CUE “may also be in a position to continue to offer some virtual programming and services this fall.”  CUE

Keyano College “aims” to offer in-person instruction in September, since “the path to every adult Albertan receiving their first dose of COVID19 vaccine by the end of June is likely.” (Alberta’s minister of advanced ed is encouraging institutions to prepare for a “full return to in-person instruction” this fall.) Keyano will continue to offer virtual online options for students.  Education News Canada

Ontario Tech clarified yesterday that it is planning the majority of courses on-campus for Fall term, including small and medium-sized classes, tutorials, labs and experiential learning activities. “Larger lectures will likely still have to be held online… We expect to provide options for remote and online learning where possible.”  OnTech

uWindsor announced this week that it has formed an “Action Group on Fall Return,” advisory and implementation teams, “to plan toward a goal of maximizing opportunities for students to have on-campus experiences in the fall.”  uWindsor Daily News


Mar 30, 2021: Fall Plans

Higher ed has been continuing to make optimistic announcements about their plans for the Fall 2021 term. (Check out all of them on a single page here.) Some of the latest include…

Carleton U’s scenario planning working group presented draft guidelines for the Fall term at Senate last week, including “a significant proportion” of seminars, labs, and smaller classes delivered F2F, “while also ensuring the availability of online options to provide flexibility.” The university will optimize ventilation, PPE, cleaning, signage, and traffic flow to prioritize health and safety.  Carleton

Centennial College announced yesterday that it is “actively planning for the safe and measured re-opening of our campuses,” and will communicate plans no later than Jun 1. “The vaccine roll-out in Ontario is cause for optimism… We are also mindful that there is considerable uncertainty about the months ahead.”  Centennial

Confederation College president Kathleen Lynch announced yesterday that they “are pleased to announce our intentions to return to an in-person on-campus learning experience in greater numbers across all of our campuses.” Confederation is working towards expansion of F2F learning for all programs “on a phased in or rotational basis (including theory-based learning),” and reintroduction of on-campus student services, food services and recreational activities.  Confed

“We look forward to returning to a more robust campus life for everyone in our College community, while maintaining our rich, interactive and engaging learning experience for students. We also excitedly await the opportunity to make new memories together on campus in the 2021/22 academic year!”Kathleen Lynch, President, Confederation College


McMaster U provost Susan Tighe provided a “mid-planning update” on Friday, explaining that “it is our aim that students will be able to come to campus regularly,” and that “we will be greatly increasing the number of on-campus classes,” PHO restrictions permitting. (This seems somewhat more optimistic than the “blended scenario” described mid-March.) Residences will be open, and more details about capacity will be known in early May. “We are also carefully considering the needs of our international students and are keeping a close eye on visa processing times and other Canadian entry requirements.”  McMaster

Memorial U provost pro tem Mark Abrahams announced Friday that we “expect to be on campus and in-person for university activities in September.” Detailed planning is ongoing, but “new and current students should make plans to be on our campuses for their university experiences this fall, unless all of the courses they are registered for are offered online.” PHO requirements could include masks and physical distancing.  MUN Gazette

Yale U shared yesterday “a preliminary sense of what to expect” this Fall, assuming that “a significant percentage of our faculty, students, and staff will be vaccinated by the end of summer.” Yale is “cautiously optimistic that we will have a full residential program for our undergraduates if public health conditions permit,” with masks and asymptomatic testing required, and some limits on lecture size. Yale “expects” faculty to conduct their classes primarily in person, although “a brief period of remote instruction also may be necessary at the beginning of the semester.” (Yale is also “preparing contingency plans in case of a further wave of COVID19.”)  Yale

York U introduced a new “Transitional Remote Work Policy” yesterday, “with a goal to create more flexibility for staff, stronger engagement, satisfaction and productivity in daily work, both now and into the future.” York will review the policy “over the next year to determine if an ongoing policy is the right approach for York as an employer of choice.” Managers will contact all staff in April and May, consider requests individually, and communicate decisions by Jun 30.  York


Apr 7, 2021: Fall Plans

Despite challenging pandemic conditions in the near term, CdnPSE is continuing to make optimistic announcements for Fall 2021. (Check out all of them on a single page here.)  Since last time…

Algoma U is targeting a “fairly active” return to all 3 campus this fall, if Canadians get vaccinated on schedule. “Algoma’s students can expect a gradual return to campus with a mix of online, in-class and blended instruction to start the 2021-2022 academic year.”  Sault Star

Mohawk College announced last Wednesday it “is confident that we will be bringing more students and employees back to campus for classes and labs, and other on-campus activities this September.” Despite the fact that Hamilton re-entered lockdown last week, fall plans “are not based on where we are today, but where we think we will be.” Mohawk notes that “any decision regarding mandatory vaccination would be made by the province.”  Mohawk

Northern College announced “a tentative return to a new normal” for Fall, on Apr 1. Northern “intends to welcome students back to a traditional learning environment as much as possible, utilizing high flex options, modernized by the lessons learned from this unprecedented pandemic, barring any unforeseen changes in the pandemic situation between now and September.” Student satisfaction over the past year has remained “in the high 90th percentile.”  Northern

Queen’s U principal Patrick Deane announced yesterday that “the university is planning for a resumption of in-person activity in September.” Although much remains unknown, the administration is hopeful that “most of the restrictions will be lifted” by September, and that daily operations will be “much closer to what prevailed prior to the pandemic.” Current plans “includes flexibility for staff with a gradual return.”  Queen’s Gazette

Sault College anticipates a return to on-campus activity at its Sault Ste Marie, Toronto and Brampton campuses this fall, but remote delivery will continue if COVID19 conditions remain the same or similar to now.  Sault

“We understand the need for social connection and the shared learning that occurs when we have face to face activities and shared experiences. We have also gained a much better appreciation of some of the advantages of working remotely. Simply put, we will put together the best of both worlds going forward when COVID19 is finally under control.”Ron Common, president, Sault College


April 19, 2021: Fall Plans

Since my last summary Apr 7, another 10 CdnPSEs have made announcements about plans for the Fall 2021 term, and the province of New Brunswick has announced its expectations. (I am rounding up all of them on a single page here.) 

Brock U provost Lynn Wells announced Apr 7 that, “with the promise of near-universal immunization over the next few months… we plan to be ready to return to campus in the Fall.” However, she emphasizes that “academic planning is rightly within the purview of academic departments and Faculties,” and that “the subject matter experts are best positioned to rule on matters of scheduling and mode of delivery.”  Brock News

Dalhousie U president Deep Saini announced last week that “we have reason to be hopeful” since NS vaccine timelines have partial vaccination available for everyone 16+ by the end of June, and full vaccination by the end of September. “Our goal is to safely open our campuses to students, faculty and staff this fall.” “Almost all” classes will be held in person, “including our larger classes.” Residences and dining halls will be open “at much greater capacity.” A phased return to campus for faculty and staff will begin in June.  Dal

“As we begin to bring our incredible Dal community back together again, I hope we don’t just pick up where we left off — but that we take what we’ve learned about ourselves and each other this year and build an even stronger Dal community for the future.”Deep Saini, president, Dalhousie U


Durham College plans to offer in-person experiences as much as possible this Fall, with courses offered as in-person, remote, or hybrid. This 3-min video includes examples of what online and blended courses might be like in robotics, etc.  YouTube

Fleming College announced last week that they are “working on plans for flexible learning options that will include online and face-to-face options for selected programs” this fall. More detailed plans will follow by Jun 1.  Fleming

U King’s College announced last week that they plan to resume in-person classes this September, including physical distancing and modified classroom capacities, and some meetings online. “The good news is that teaching and learning, and our communal life in general, will once again be largely in person this fall.” King’s will still offer an online option for some classes.  UKC

Memorial U announced Friday that NL’s vaccine rollout plan anticipates that all eligible members of the community will have access to a first dose by July. MUN anticipates a “full return” of students in Sept, and therefore advises employees to plan for “a return to working on campus in between June and August.”  MUN Gazette

“At this point we are in a race between COVID19 (and variants) and the vaccine, and we are nearing the end. The only way to return to some level of normalcy is through vaccinations… However, it is important to recognize that we will most likely be living with COVID and public health restrictions until 2022.”Greg McDougall, chief risk officer, Memorial U


Mount Royal U president Tim Rahilly reassured the community back on Apr 9 that, despite recent increases in the pandemic and setbacks in AB’s reopening, MRU “must continue to plan as if we are returning to campus in the fall, but be ready to adapt to whatever situation and restrictions are in place at that time.”  YouTube

uRegina is planning a “transitional semester” this Fall, with “thousands” of students returning to F2F classes, but remote learning continuing to play a large role. Computer labs, library and sports facilities will reopen, and food services resume. Much will hinge on student demand, and currently remote learning spaces are filling faster than in-person ones, even for Kinesiology. “A full return” is expected for January 2022.  Regina Leader-Post

“I like the notion of a transition because it allows us to reacquaint ourselves with other people in a gathering. It’ll be a psychological shift to gather people back together again.”David Gregory, provost, uRegina


Trent U president Leo Groarke says Trent is “planning for a full return to in-person learning” this Fall, and is “confident this fall will look much more ‘normal’ than the past year.” Many courses in some programs will continue to be available online.  Trent

Wilfrid Laurier U president Deb MacLatchy announced on Apr 9 that “we are approaching the fall with cautious optimism” with an “overall objective… to increase our on-campus presence in support of in-person teaching, learning, research and students experience.” WLU will be “transitioning to more in-person activity” this fall, with a goal “to return to regular operations with minimal restrictions by winter term in 2022.” WLU will begin issuing weekly “what you need to know for fall” updates starting in May.  WLU


Expectations for Fall in NB

On Apr 7, New Brunswick’s CMOH Jennifer Russell announced that she is “optimistic” that PSE “will be able to offer on-campus instruction safely and successfully during the 2021-22 academic year,” since all adults in the province should have access to a first dose of vaccine by early summer. PSE Minister Trevor Holder added that colleges and universities are independent of government and will make their own decisions on when to resume in-person learning.  CBC

UNB told students they “can anticipate that the majority of classes offered in Fall 2021 will have an in-person component,” and it recommends they prepare to be on campus in September. The NB Student Alliance is urging institutions to be flexible, in order to accommodate students who may not be able or willing to fully return to campus all at once.  Global



April 26, 2021: More Fall Plans

I observed Friday that we’ve seen some CdnPSEs backpedalling a bit on their plans for Fall 2021, or at least couching plans in contingency and speaking of a “transitional term.” (I’m sure it was just a coincidence that many institutions issued reassuring announcements Friday as well.)  Since my last summary a week ago on Apr 19, another 7 CdnPSEs have made announcements about plans for the Fall 2021 term. (I am rounding up all of them on a single page here.) 

Brescia UC announced Friday that, “in anticipation of our region and country recovering from the COVID19 pandemic as vaccines become more accessible, Brescia is planning to return to a majority of in-person learning on campus and resume in-person support services and activities this fall,” of course “pending public health guidelines.” Specifically, this will mean “80% in-person” and “20% virtual learning,” even if restrictions require “a potential cohort model with some livestream technology.” Brescia will offer “a full suite of year 1 courses online,” in case travel restrictions affect international or domestic students. Residence will open “at full capacity.”  Brescia

“We know that we cannot predict exactly what the future holds… While we remain hopeful for a strong return to campus this fall, it is important for us to continue to be realistic and modify our plans as needed.” Cheryl Jensen, interim principal, Brescia UC


UNB-Saint John is still confidently saying it “will return to in-person teaching this fall” (according to correspondence shared with me), and although “some courses” will continue to use virtual or hybrid delivery, “students are expected to be on campus.”

UNB overall sounds more like the CdnPSE mainstream, indicating “we will be expanding our in-person activities and face-to-face experiences,” and are “anticipating that Fall 2021 will bear more resemblance to a traditional UNB experience,” but with the qualification: “we cannot make a definitive commitment to resuming all campus activities as prior to the pandemic.” Still, UNB asserts that “our planning for Fall 2021 is not dependent on the vaccine rollout” because it has “strong health and safety measures in place.”  UNB

“The unpredictability of COVID19 will require a creative, flexible and collaborative approach on the part of the University, students, faculty and staff in the months ahead. We will be living with COVID19 and the public health measures used to minimize its risks for some time to come.”Paul Mazerolle, president, UNB


Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) has announced “a complete and vibrant on-campus experience with in-person classes in the fall.” Residences, dining, libraries and athletics will reopen, although there may be “some changes” in space utilization, schedule and gathering sizes. Some grad programs will be fully designed for online delivery, and students unable to attend classes on campus will have flexible options.  SMU

Seneca College is “optimistic that we can continue to open more spaces and provide more students with an on-campus experience, inside and outside the classroom.” Programs will be delivered in 4 colour-coded formats: online (synchronous or asynchronous), hybrid, in-person, or a new “flexible” mode using “innovative learning spaces” (which sounds like Hyflex). Of course, “all program delivery decisions are subject to the changing circumstances of the pandemic and will be made with the guidance of government and public health authorities.” Student services and resources “will remain online.”  Inside Seneca

Sheridan College clarified Friday that, “in light of the promising developments around vaccine rollout and the government’s plan to offer every adult a vaccine by the end of the summer, Sheridan is actively planning for much more on-campus activity in the Fall 2021 term.” Academic and student support teams are “building additional flexibility” into plans, with “more options for residence, more in-class hands-on learning, and more on-campus community, wellness, research and co-curricular activities” – but also with “flexible, hybrid learning options” throughout the academic year. Fall program delivery modes will be announced by Jun 4.  Sheridan

Vancouver Island U is “planning for a safe return to on-campus instruction” this Fall, based on Bonnie Henry’s advice of Mar 8. VIU’s timetable will be published today, with specifics of the delivery mode for each course, in 1 of 5 ways: in-person, blended synchronous, blended asynchronous, online synchronous, or online asynchronous.  VIU


May 10, 2021: Flexible Fall Plans

Broadway theatres may be eagerly planning to reopen Sept 14 (potentially demanding proof of vaccination), but CdnPSE is still cautious, not wanting to overpromise. As the pandemic has worn on, CdnPSE decisions have been increasingly coordinated at the provincial level, and lately provinces have been making declarations on their behalf…


BC “Primed” for Campus

Following PHO Bonnie Henry’s advice of Mar 8 to “plan for a full return to in-person activities in September,” there was a flurry of announcements from BCpses. Following the release of a more detailed “Primer” last week, more announcements have begun…

BC PSEs and the Ministry of Advanced Ed released an 11-page COVID19 Return-to-Campus Primer on Apr 30, to provide high-level planning guidance before the Go-Forward Guidelines for the sector are released (to be effective Aug 1). The Primer emphasizes “adaptability as conditions change,” but anticipates that “physical distancing will not be required” in PSE classrooms, with “no limits” on class size, and student housing can plan on near-full capacity – although masks, daily self-assessments, traffic management efforts, hygiene and cleaning protocols will have to continue. Social activities, athletics facilities and extracurriculars are subject to local PHO orders, but “educational activities” (defined by the institution) are not. Faculty and staff requests to WFH for medical reasons should be considered carefully.  BC Gov’t

uVic will release its full class schedule later this month, but is reportedly planning to deliver courses “predominantly in-person.” Larger first-year courses (100+) will offer one online section, as will courses with 50+ international students. Instructors can request a family or medical accommodation to deliver their classes online, or can offer to teach in hyflex mode.  The Martlet


“Bullish” in Alberta

Back on Mar 18, Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Ed said that the government “expected” in-person classes to resume at PSE this fall, and encouraged all institutions “to prepare for a full return to on-campus learning this September.” Since then, ABpses have tried to sound more optimistic, but they have been much more cautious than Jason Kenney’s government – and of course, the recent surge of cases has proven them right…

uAlberta released its Fall 2021 course schedule 2 weeks ago (just after my last round-up appeared), with offerings “in-person” or “online.” Overall, 80% of courses are planned for F2F delivery, “to provide options for our students.” Campus activities will resume gradually as PHO restrictions are lifted. “Students, faculty and staff should be prepared to be on campus this fall.”  The Quad

NAIT announced a day later that it is planning “for additional in-person learning and services” this Fall, “as provincial guidelines allow,” but cautions that “we don’t currently know what health guidelines will be in place.” NAIT is working to “safely increase on-campus attendance to manageable levels, while also innovating our education and services to find a blend of virtual and in-person that meets the needs of students.” A recent survey of NAIT students found that 24% preferred online learning, and 45% preferred a blend of virtual and in-person learning.  NAIT


“Transitional Term” in SK

Last week a series of announcements in Saskatchewan explicitly referenced PSE coordination and used pretty similar language…

uRegina is planning for a “staged reopening” of campus this fall, welcoming back as many people as is safe “with increased options for in-person teaching and learning.” The Fall semester “will be as a transitional one” with “near-normal operations” in Winter 2022. Masking, sanitizing, physical distancing and other precautions will continue.  uRegina

Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced, “in collaboration with the Ministry of Advanced Education and all Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions,” that it would be “safely reopening campus to more students and employees” this Fall. Programs listed as on-campus “will be primarily but not necessarily fully on campus.”  SKPoly

uSaskatchewan continues to plan “for a more open Fall term,” despite high COVID19 rates in the region at the moment. “Many programs, classes and labs” will return to F2F delivery, “much more than we had in this past term,” but Fall 2021 will be “transitional.” “We will likely not complete our full transition out of pandemic operations until at least January 2022.” Student services, dining and residences will be “more fully opened” on campus, “following strict health and safety measures.” Staff will continue to work remotely when possible to reduce campus density.  uSask

“While we are closer to the end of the pandemic than the beginning, we are not through with COVID19 yet, nor it with us.”Peter Stoicheff, president, uSaskatchewan


Cautious Optimism in ON

ONpse announcements have been trickling out for weeks, with quite different language but pretty similar meaning…

Canadore College released its Academic Delivery Plan for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 last week, “looking forward to the Fall… with reserved optimism.” Canadore hopes to “transition to more in-person learning and service delivery as soon as public health and government guidelines allow.” Currently it plans to begin the Fall semester with a hybrid model “where necessary and safely feasible,” with courses delivered in “remote,” “partial remote,” or “no remote” format.  Canadore

Carleton U’s Scenario Planning working group (CUSP) has delivered its final report with recommendations for Fall 2021, confirmed by Senate on Apr 30. Carleton is “preparing for a safe and gradual return to campus” with a “significant proportion” of F2F courses, particularly “seminars, labs, experiential learning and smaller classes.” The projection now is for a “significant return to on-campus activity” this Fall, and “a return to essentially normal campus activity” by Winter 2022. To accommodate potential PHO requirements and likely visa delays for foreign students, “enhanced online options” will also be available.  Carleton

Durham College will be offering programs this Fall in 3 formats: remote, hybrid, or flexible (hyflex) – but apparently not fully in-person.  DC

George Brown College reports that “most programs will be delivered online” for Fall 2021, with a hybrid model for “select programs where students need to complete hands-on clinical or lab work.”  GBC

Laurier expects mandatory mask requirements to still be in place this fall, and in the “best case scenario” classrooms might return at 50% capacity, with priority given to hands-on courses. Classes will be taught remotely or in-person, but not both – and the school is committed to finishing fall-term classes the way they start. The hope is to return to regular operations with minimal restrictions by Jan 2022.  Waterloo Record

McMaster is “actively planning for a September that will look different from pre-pandemic terms, but also different from the difficult year almost behind us.” The focus is on providing “safe and meaningful in-person experiences” with more F2F learning, on-campus services, small group study and club spaces, and access to campus amenities like gyms, library and dining. Courses will be virtual (synchronous online), online (asynchronous), or will have “elements” of in-person learning if PHO allows. Planning will support social distancing, mandatory masks, enhanced cleaning, reduced density, and personal hygiene practices. Residences will be open to first-year students only.  McMaster Daily News

OCADU is “planning for a safe return to on-campus activities and learning this Fall.” Students will have access to shops, studios, workspaces, student services and technology on campus, but lectures will be mostly online. PHO may require masks, physical distancing and limited density in classrooms. OCAD will offer “a full range of fully online course options” to allow domestic and international students to study, wherever they are – and there are “backup plans” for potential changes to PHO guidelines.  YouTube

Sault College will offer “many” courses in hyflex delivery this Fall, even if all students can return to campus. It has 20 classrooms equipped already, and profs will be offered “a lot of supports.”  Sault Star


Quebec Pushes for Campus

Last week, Quebec’s minister for higher ed Danielle McCann said she wanted a “maximum” number of students to return to campus this fall, while acknowledging they would have to wear masks and abide by 1-meter physical distancing. She estimates this would allow CEGEPs and universities to return to 60% capacity in classrooms. (Throughout the pandemic, the Quebec government has strongly emphasized the need to get students of all ages back in class for their mental health, sometimes resulting in an overloaded healthcare system.) McCann expects a return to normal “sometime in 2022.”  Montreal Gazette


Collaborating in NS

The 10 universities in Nova Scotia, and the provincial government, hope to return campus life closer to normal this Fall. The Ministry of Advanced Education is working on a plan that will ultimately need approval from the provincial CMOH. “If the students, by that time have their vaccines, and the epidemiology is where we want it to be, then you may have two to a room in residences and more normal food service.” Over the past academic year, StFX and Acadia brought students to campus safely in small towns (Antigonish and Wolfville), but it would be more challenging in Halifax.  CBC

U Sainte-Anne announced last week that it is planning for in-person courses this Fall, albeit with a “flexible posture in the face of pandemic-related uncertainty” – so as a result, courses will be planned for hybrid delivery. Residences will be open, and on-campus attendance will likely be required for some activities, including labs. There is even “potential” for a return to varsity sports.  Education News Canada



2021.06.01: Returning to Normal

My last summary of CdnPSE announcements for Fall 2021 was 3 weeks ago, on May 10. (See “Dark Horses, Dark Times, Fall Forecasts” – or check out all my coverage of Fall 2021 plans in this Insider Recap.) Since then, provincial governments have weighed in with direction to PSE and with their economic reopening plans. There have been so many announcements that I’ll split it over 2 days…


A “Full Return” in BC

In that May 10 issue, I summarized the BC government’s preliminary “Go-Forward Guidelines” for PSE, and later that day PHO Bonnie Henry answered questions in a virtual town hall for PSE administrators, hosted by Thompson Rivers U. (Revised guidelines are expected to be released later this month.) She emphasized that the vaccines provide reason for great optimism, and that the past 15 months of health precautions have merely been “a blunt instrument” in order to minimize death and disease until a better solution arrived. “And now it has.” Most young adults in BC are expected to have both doses of vaccine by late summer. Institutional leaders have since announced in harmony that they have been told to prepare for a “full return” to on-campus learning this Fall – without the need for physical distancing or mandatory vaccination. Residences may return to near-full capacity. Masks may be required, depending on regional transmission rates, and testing and tracing will be used to manage future cases. Immunocompromised students or instructors should take additional precautions against COVID19, as they would against other viruses, but should not medically require special accommodations to participate in campus life. We do, however, need to be patient, open and compassionate in dealing with staff and students as we navigate back to “normal.”  YouTube


BCIT announced May 10 that it was actively planning for “a substantial increase of on-campus educational activity” this Fall. Except for fully online courses, “students should anticipate a significant level of on-campus activity and plan accordingly.” (40% of programs had already been brought back to campus for in-person learning.)  On May 21, AVP Academic Operations Jennifer Figner elaborated on the announcement in an update video, and reported that “things are looking better by the day” thanks to the vaccine rollout. Nonetheless, “many” programs will incorporate aspects of blended learning.  BCIT Commons


U Canada West is “preparing for a full return to on-campus learning” for its Fall term, starting in October.  UCW


Vancouver Island U is “planning for a safe return to on-campus instruction,” with courses in 5 delivery modes ranging from F2F to asynchronous online. “Most” courses will be offered F2F, but VIU has always had some online and hybrid programming, and “expects these opportunities to be expanded” this Fall and beyond. Masks will likely be mandatory on campus, but vaccines will not. Double occupancy in residence might be possible, based on PHO direction.  VIU



More Cautious in Alberta?

Way back in March, Alberta’s Advanced Ed minister was encouraging all PSEs to prepare for a Fall term without restrictions on in-person learning, and yesterday I outlined Alberta’s remarkably aggressive “open for summer” plan, which could see all COVID19 restrictions lifted by Jul 1. By comparison, institutional announcements have been quite a bit more cautious…


NAIT is “planning for additional in-person learning and services” this Fall, while minimizing “disruption.” NAIT’s schools are still determining at a program level whether courses will be delivered as virtual or blended. (Enrolment with schedules will be available by early July.)  NAIT


Olds College is “planning for a fall 2021 return that will see classes predominantly on campus.”  Olds



Transitional Term in SK

Institutions in Saskatchewan sound even more cautious than their peers in Alberta, as of their most recent announcements. They clearly regard the Fall term as “transitional” before a return to more normal campus life in January…


Parkland & Cumberland Colleges are developing plans for a safe return to F2F learning for Fall. “While our plan is to get back to on-campus instruction, blended learning will continue to be a key part of our institutions, providing flexibility and fostering innovation as we serve learners across our region.”  Education News Canada


Saskatchewan Polytechnic plans to increase the number of students on campus this Fall, while continuing with hybrid delivery of programs. Currently ~35% of students are on campus at any one time, and come Fall “we are expecting… closer to 50-55%.” Fall will see a gradual transition towards full reopening of programs and services, likely with some controls over density and distancing.  Global


uSaskatchewan is “anticipating that most offerings will be in person and that most students will have in-person activity” this Fall, “but it will not be all.” UofS is still referring to the Fall term as “transitional,” and some classes and services will be offered remotely. Residences and food services are expected to open up, but masks will still be required and large gatherings avoided. Athletics will continue, but with less high-risk activity and fewer large events. “It’s going to feel much more normal than it has for the past year,” but campus life won’t return to “close to normal” until January.  Saskatoon Star-Phoenix  |  CBC



Back to Normal in Quebec

Quebec’s premier has been a vocal proponent of returning students of all ages to classrooms, and CEGEPs and universities have been feeling some pressure for months.


Bishop’s U internally announced a “full return to on-campus teaching and learning” back on Mar 19.


Concordia U has advised students they will “regularly need to come to campus throughout the fall term for both academic and non-academic activities,” although “some courses will be online and some will be in person.” (Most large classes will likely be online.)  Concordia


McGill U is “returning to in-person activities to the fullest extent possible” this Fall, and therefore requiring faculty, staff and students to be in Montreal so they can be onsite. “Some components of courses will harness the pedagogical benefits of online teaching,” particularly large lectures, but everyone should plan “for a more regular rhythm of on-campus academic activity by September.” “All instructors must be prepared to teach on campus” and staff will make “a progressive return to on-campus work… achieving a regular presence by September.” Approved staff may WFH one day per week.  McGill


“Despite continuing concerns, in Quebec, and at McGill, we have begun planning for a ‘new normal,’ with the hope we will come back better, not only as an institution and a Faculty, but as a society.”David Eidelman, Dean, McGill U Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Atlantic Canada


College of the North Atlantic released its Fall 2021 Academic Plan on May 14, detailing delivery modes for each of 322 programs. By my count, 60% of programs will be “fully on campus,” 35% “fully online,” and just 5% “partially online.” Masks will be mandatory on all campuses, and students must adhere to PHO requirements.  CNA


Nova Scotia Community College is “preparing to return to more in-person learning, supports and services” this Fall, “while continuing with some planned online and blended delivery.”  Education News Canada



2021.06.02: Fall Plans in Ontario


Quebec Orders Normalcy

Yesterday (prompted no doubt by my newsletter!) Quebec’s minister of higher education, Danielle McCann, announced that physical distancing will no longer be required at CEGEPs and universities, provided that 75% of youth age 16-19 get both doses of vaccine. (Currently, just 42% have received a first dose, and 3% a second.) Mask requirements might persist, and there would be unspecified accommodations for immune-compromised students, but all PSEs in the province should prepare for in-person classes this Fall. (With “backup plans” in case the epidemiological situation changes.)  Global  |  CBC  |  CTV



Ontario Colleges

Several Ontario colleges have made recent announcements suggesting incremental expansion of on-campus activity, which in many cases never really stopped…


Algonquin College president Claude Brulé responded to Ontario’s “Road to Re-open” plan Friday as “another hopeful indicator that we are closer to safely returning to a more ‘normal’ way of life.” Nonetheless, Algonquin will gradually return its campuses to “pre-pandemic levels of activity… over an extended period of time.” For Fall, “we anticipate… a modest increase in activity on campuses.” AC


“This week can we say with greater confidence that positive signs are emerging every day. As we continue to look after ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours, we do so with a renewed sense of hope that the finish line is finally coming into sight.”Claude Brulé, President & CEO, Algonquin College


Niagara College “continues to plan for a significant increase in on-campus learning for Fall 2021 term,” with “a mix of remote and in-person learning… but with the majority of programs offering at least some on-campus classes or labs.” (Contingent upon improved conditions and reduced restrictions.) Preliminary status of courses has now been posted, but “some changes may be necessary due to the evolving nature of the pandemic and the continued uncertainty around its trajectory and associated public health measures.”  NC


Sault College “is preparing for our fall 2021 intake with the anticipation that students will be returning to class,” although some public health measures may still be required. Programs may be offered in-person, blended, hybrid, hyflex, or remotely.  Sault



Ontario Universities

The presidents of Ontario’s universities issued a joint statement May 27 indicating that they were “preparing for a safe return to campus” this Fall, although “each university will develop its own unique approach.”


“We have great optimism and hope for a fall where we may safely increase in-person teaching, learning, research and student experience on university campuses… Our universities will remain vigilant, nimble and responsive to changing circumstances.”Presidents and Principals of Ontario’s Universities 



Brock U “continues to prepare for a significant return to on-campus instruction and activity this September,” but is planning for 3 scenarios: a significant return to F2F complemented with online/hybrid elements; some F2F with significant online/hybrid; or almost entirely online. (The first is the most likely scenario, so the majority of courses will be offered in-person.) Masks, self-assessments, and enhanced cleaning will likely persist. Student services will be offered on-campus and online. Residences will reopen at “at least 75% occupancy.”  Brock News


uGuelph is “looking forward to a vibrant on-campus experience this fall,” with “a significant number of courses at all year levels to be offered face-to-face or to include in-person components such as labs or tutorials.” “With many of our incoming students receiving at least a first dose of a COVID19 vaccine before the start of the fall 2021 semester… Housing Services is pleased to offer guaranteed residence to all first-year undergraduate students.”  uGuelph


Laurentian U is “working towards a partial return to in-person classes” and will offer “most courses on-campus” this Fall, but also “a multitude of academic programs and courses online.”  Laurentian


McMaster U’s Oversight Committee released its 17-page final recommendations report on May 25. It assumes that masking, screening and distancing precautions will remain in place this Fall, and urges the University to support course development for online, blended and in-person delivery – and Universal Design for Learning – through a number of investments and initiatives – but that ultimately, wherever possible, instructors should determine the mode of their courses. The committee also recommends the University consider assessments and proctoring tools, explore opportunities for student cohorts or block scheduling, and make clear masks available to instructors and staff who may be working with deaf individuals. Residences are expected to be “fully open.” Social spaces need to be monitored.  McMaster Daily News


Queen’s U anticipates “a return to full in-person, on-campus instruction” this Fall, and has established a Fall Planning Operations Working Group of staff and faculty to provide advice and create resources to assist units in the transition. Of course, “the university’s plans are ultimately subject to the authority of the provincial government and public health officials.” (A detailed town hall was held May 27 too.)  Queen’s Gazette


“We’re in the business of imagining what the fall could look like if the vaccine rollout goes as we expect it will. But this is a difficult thing to do while we’re still in the grip of some of the immediate challenges of COVID19.”Patrick Deane, Principal, Queen’s U



uToronto is “busy preparing its three campuses for a safe return to in-person academic instruction” and “as much on-campus activities as we can” this Fall. (Current plans include self-screening, mandatory masks, upgraded ventilation, traffic flow management, and limited room occupancy – although UofT is also planning for scenarios with “reduced or even no distancing.”) Online services may remain available, too: “we don’t want to lose the innovations that we have developed over the course of the pandemic.”  UofT News


Trent U is planning for “a full return to in-person learning” at both its campuses this Fall (hence the vaccine requirement announced yesterday – see below), but it will also continue to expand online course options for those who want to take some courses remotely. “Some virtual supports and services” will be offered remotely.  Trent


uWaterloo is planning a “staged and strategic return” to 50% capacity classrooms this September, with mandatory masks, enhanced ventilation, and self-screening. “It is our intention to keep expanding in-person experiences throughout this academic year, as public health conditions allow.” UW will offer courses in-person, remotely, and possibly in a hybrid model, and student services will be available on-campus and off.  UW  |  CBC  |  UW2  |  UW3


Wilfrid Laurier U is “planning to offer as many in-person classes as possible with required physical distancing and gathering-size restrictions to maintain safety. In the best-case scenario, 50% of classroom seats would be occupied up to a maximum of 100 students per class.” By January 2022, however, “Laurier’s intention is to return to regular, in-person operations with minimal restrictions.” Therefore, “staying remote for the entire 2021/2022 academic year will not be an option for most students.” (Residences will be open at full capacity, subject to the PHO.)  WLU


York U released a “revised outlook on the Fall and Winter terms” back on May 12, as vaccination was beginning to progress more rapidly, to indicate that “we are therefore preparing a more optimistic scenario with closer to 50% of courses being offered in-person, focusing on offerings for first- and second-year students, whose transition to university has been greatly impacted by this pandemic.” While Fall will be transitional, “based on the latest projections, we are preparing for a full return to our campuses for the Winter Term.”  York




Opening Up the West

Good morning!

CdnPSE announcements for Fall 2021 have been rolling out steadily, often in numerous iterations, and I haven’t had the time to summarize them since Jun 2 (see “the Rocky Road to Fall”). Since then, I’ve gathered 150+ updates, and I’ll try to summarize them succinctly, by province, moving from Canada’s left coast to its right. 

For months now, CdnPSE has been expressing confidence in rising levels of vaccination, and promising more on-campus activity for Fall, although deferring to provincial health authorities (sometimes up front, and other times in the fine print). A handful have made vaccination mandatory for students living in residence (see the Recap on Vaccination Policies). In the past few weeks, what I’ve been noticing is some variety in promised online course options, and a growing emphasis on upgrades to campus ventilation and air filtration systems.

Today, let’s look at announcements from BC and Alberta…



Fall in BC

British Columbia has arguably demonstrated the most coherent, collective approach to pandemic response in the country. PHO Bonnie Henry has been a consistent voice of calm, with full support of provincial politicians, and the provinces’ colleges and universities have worked collaboratively on campus reopening plans. At 70/32 vaccination so far, only one-third of the population is fully immunized, but the province has been set on a full reopening for months…


New Jul 5 Guidelines

Since Mar 8, PHO Bonnie Henry has been advising BC PSEs to prepare for a full return to campus in September, emphasizing the benefits for mental health. In June, BC’s PSE institutions released Go-Forward Guidelines, and just this Monday published updated Return to Campus Guidelines. The latest guidance sets expectations for “the full return to in-person education, research and on-campus services” at colleges and universities, which will “transition from highly prescriptive COVID19 specific orders and protocols back to normal institutional policies and guidance on occupational health and safety.” As of Jul 1, in Step 3 of reopening, PSEs will require daily health checks and enhanced cleaning, allow for gradual increases in F2F instruction and occupancy limits, and develop “communicable disease plans.” In Step 4, starting as early as Sep 7, “normal social contact” can resume, including large events, parties and athletics, and classrooms, residences, and offices can return to “maximum capacity.” Physical distancing, protective barriers and directional signage will no longer be required. Masks shifted from mandatory to “recommended” on Jul 1, and will become a “personal choice” by Step 4. BC has legislated 3 hours of paid time for employees to get each dose of vaccine, and 3 days of paid leave if they are required to stay home because of COVID19. The Guidelines also emphasize special considerations for mental health supports, Indigenous students and communities.  BC RTC Guidelines


BC Campus summarizes the range of academic delivery plans for PSE this Fall, from 100% on-campus to 70/30 or a staged approach. Some STEM, trades, and visual arts programs are prioritized for F2F delivery. Other institutions may offer students a choice between an online course section or F2F alternatives, and might even prioritize unvaccinated students for online seats. Instructors are encouraged to provide flexible options to students, to help overcome inequities and barriers to access, and to consider “ditching” problematic online proctored exams.  BC Campus


UBC plans to return staff and students to campus by Sep 7, with a “phased approach” to restarting social connections, businesses, and activities. All administrative units will be developing COVID19 safety plans, and employees will be transitioning back to campus in July and August. An HVAC working group is assessing building ventilation and compiling recommendations.  UBC News


“Together we will bring vibrancy to our campuses, as we see the increased resumption of in-person teaching, learning, and research activity this fall.”Santa Ono, President, UBC



Camosun College released a 2-min video yesterday to “Clear the Air” with a tour of campus HVAC systems, including the MERV13 filters and “mixing chambers,” which currently bring in 100% outdoor air instead of recirculating indoor air. It’s a cheerful, upbeat video narrated by manager of facilities operations Julie Oakley.  YouTube


Royal Roads U president Philip Steenkamp has released many effective videos over the pandemic. (In particular, I have shared widely his compelling, 4-min answer to the question, “Do we still need Gay Pride?”) I had bookmarked another video message from mid-June in which he expressed hope for a full return to campus this Fall, and reminded those who might be reluctant to return that “there’s a lot we’ve missed out on, by operating mostly in a virtual environment.” Steenkamp also explained that better “human connections” and “separation of work and home life” would help build mental wellness, and foster “culture, cohesion and common purpose.” (Unfortunately the video has been removed from YouTube since then.)


Selkirk College has “a green light” from the PHO for a “full return to campus” this Fall. Last week, the College released a 4-step restart timeline, which aims for a full return to classrooms, offices, meetings and athletics by Sep 7 (if targets for vaccination, case counts, and hospitalizations are met).  Selkirk


Simon Fraser U has been auditing HVAC airflow and upgrading filters to confirm that ventilation meets national, provincial, and international standards. “Ventilation alone is not a panacea for tackling COVID19… It’s one tool to help mitigate spread.” (Oh, and kudos to Jeff Hodson for this pun: “Having students, staff and faculty on campus this fall will be a breath of fresh air.”)  SFU


“Having students, staff and faculty on campus this fall will be a breath of fresh air.”Jeff Hodson, SFU News



Thompson Rivers U is offering students in-person and online course options this Fall, and assuring students they are working to ensure social interactions and a sense of community. A week-long “hyflex” orientation will include livestreamed large events, and outdoor scavenger hunts, tours and icebreaker games (requiring pre-registration).  Daily Hive


Trinity Western U is preparing for the majority of courses to be delivered F2F this Fall, although some courses will continue to be offered online. “It will be a joy to gather together and experience, once again, a meaningful, personal, and face-to-face learning experience.” The PHO is not expected to require physical distancing in controlled settings like classrooms, and campus housing will operate at near full capacity (80-90%).  TWU


“It will be a joy to gather together and experience, once again, a meaningful, personal, and face-to-face learning experience.” –  Mark Husbands, President, Trinity Western U



Vancouver Island U is offering courses in 5 modalities: in-person, blended synchronous, blended asynchronous, online synchronous and online asynchronous. VIU “has always had some online and hybrid programming,” and expects to expand on that “this fall and going forward.” At this time, masks will be required on campus this fall, but vaccines will not be mandatory. (Many other details are still pending.)  VIU


Canada West Universities Athletic Association released its 2021-22 conference and championship schedules last week, with some “alternative formats” for regular season games to reduce interprovincial travel. Soccer matches begin Sep 4 in Alberta, and Sep 10 in BC and MB. Rugby begins Sep 18, Football Sep 25, Field Hockey Oct 1 and Hockey Oct 15. The first championships in 2021 will be Golf, held Oct 4-5 at UBC. Cross-Country championships will be held Oct 30 at uSask, and Swimming Nov 26-28 at uAlberta.



Fall in Alberta

Alberta entered Stage 3 of its “Open for Summer” plan on Jul 1, (coincidentally) in time for Canada Day celebrations and the Calgary Stampede. Declaring a return to “normal,” the premier lifted mask mandates and restrictions on social and retail activity, even though the province is only at 62/41 vaccination so far. So far, Alberta’s colleges and universities sound much more cautious, “staying the course” with plans for academic delivery that were set in place months ago when things looked considerably more bleak in the province…


uAlberta shared its “overarching vision” for Fall 2021 last week, a fall “unlike any fall that’s come before.” On Sep 1, for the first time in 533 days, much of the UofA community will be together again on campus. 80% of classes will be delivered in-person, although some courses may be offered in online or hybrid formats. Residences and research labs will be “humming” again. “Libraries are busy. Food courts are thriving. Fitness centres are buzzing. Buses and trains deliver people every hour; bikes fill the racks and cars are in the parking lots.” UofA will take a “phased approach” to reopening, inviting faculty and staff back in stages starting in August, and campuses should “fully reopen” by Jan 2022. Students will be welcomed in-person, but also remotely “as needed for some individuals.” Student services will be offered online and on-campus. Formal requirements for 6-foot distancing or masking may be lifted, but “respect for one another’s personal space needs will be expected.”  The Quad


“It won’t be a regular September, however: we will continue to keep a careful watch. We will open everything, but carefully.”uAlberta Fall ’21 Readiness Working Group



Alberta U of the Arts is “preparing for a full return to campus” by Sep 8, at the direction of provincial CMOH Deena Hinshaw, who advised to expect “minimal health restrictions” and a return to in-person classes without physical distancing requirements. AUArts observes, however, that “we cannot guarantee this plan,” and if PHO restrictions require it, studio courses will be offered on campus while others will be delivered online. Courses may “likely” start online and pivot to on-campus later in the term.  AUArts


uCalgary is planning a “graduated return that will take place in the summer and build throughout the fall,” resulting in more classes, research and services in person – although “return to campus won’t happen overnight” and “flexibility is key as we move forward.” Student residences will be open, but vaccination will notbe mandatory.  CBC  |  Global  |  Calgary Herald  |  uCalgary


Grant MacEwan U still appears to be operating with the majority of courses online and WFH encouraged, but recent correspondence to employees makes it clear that remote work and study “will be the exception” by September. Masks will no longer be required on campus as of Jul 1, echoing the province’s decision to “Open for Summer.” MacEwan


Mount Royal U held a 45-min virtual town hall for students last month, at which AVP Students Phil Warsaba outlined expectations for a return to campus this Fall. “Our plans for the Fall are largely based on a removal of significant restrictions,” although still included traffic control, density reduction and other initiatives (such as outdoor wifi spaces). 70-80% of MRU classes will be offered in person, with 20% or more offered online “for those who need it” – but he emphasized “if you can attend in-person classes, please leave online sections for others.” On its COVID19 page, MRU adds that “mandatory vaccinations are not allowed under current legislation in Alberta.” (See also the 7-min orientation video, ICYMI, below.)  YouTube  |  MRU


NAIT is “planning for our fall transition to a more vibrant campus,” with “an increased presence of staff and students on campus above what we have known for nearly 15 months.” Still, the delivery NAIT anticipates is the most “blended” approach announced in Alberta to date: 14% of degree, diploma and certificate programs will be offered entirely online (from 31% last term), while 82% will be blended (up from 69%), and just 4% will be delivered fully on campus. “We know… there is a growing appreciation among learners for online delivery, and we are also looking at how we can successfully adopt a distributed workforce model long-term.”  NAIT


Northern Lakes College president Glenn Mitchell was pleased to share the “exciting announcement” on Jun 11, that staff and students can return to campus this Fall. (The video is now prominently displayed on the college home page too.)  YouTube



I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed – not that so many institutions in Western Canada are planning a return to 80% F2F delivery and 99% residence capacity, nor that none of them intend to make vaccination mandatory for students, but that institutions as student-centred as Mount Royal would discourage students from enrolling in online course sections.


Clearly, one of our challenges in the months and years ahead will be to adapt our timetables, registrarial processes, collective agreements and pedagogical methods so that any student willing to pay full price for the convenience of online study is permitted to do so…




Shades of Grey for Fall Reopening

Covering still-evolving news is of course a Sisyphean task, but I have some updates and corrections from yesterday’s issue “Opening Up the West,” from BC and Alberta. Then, we can move across the prairies to Saskatchewan and Manitoba.



Postscripts: BC

As I outlined yesterday, BCpse is pretty consistent in following the lead of PHO Bonnie Henry, and the collective Return to Campus Guidelines provide quite a bit of consistency between institutions. Here are a few things that really should have made it into yesterday’s issue, though…


“Back to Normalcy”

Matt Milovick, VP Admin at Thompson Rivers U and chair of the provincial RTC Guidelines committee, told CBC yesterday that campuses this September “could look a lot like they did in fall 2019” and that “we are back to pre-pandemic normalcy.”  CBC


BCIT announced Tuesday that it is entering a Step 3 “transition” phase that includes “recommended” masks, “careful” social contact, increased gathering sizes and “gradual easing” of COVID19 restrictions. “BCIT has already successfully and safely brought 40% of its programs back on campus for in-person learning and teaching. We are confident that our Institute has the resources, knowledge, and expertise to create a safe environment in welcoming more of our community members back on campus this fall.”  BCIT Commons


RRU Video Link

OK, mea culpa. Somehow, I lost track of the video message from Royal Roads U president Philip Steenkamp, but eagle-eyed readers there have set me straight: the video is in fact still available here on YouTube. Steenkamp expresses hope for a full return to campus this Fall, and reminds those who might be reluctant to return that “there’s a lot we’ve missed out on, by operating mostly in a virtual environment.” He also explains that better “human connections” and “separation of work and home life” will help build mental wellness, and foster “culture, cohesion and common purpose.” (I must have been inadvertently added an incorrect URL to my notes.)  YouTube


Vancouver Island U issued an update Monday in response to BC’s RTC Guidelines (which hadn’t yet percolated to the FAQs page). VIU’s reopening plan has 4 steps which parallel the provincial plan. Effective this week, as BC enters Step 3, masks indoors are “highly recommended, rather than mandatory,” aside from exceptions like the Hairdressing Salon and Dental Clinic. Daily self-assessment is crucial, but use of the VIU Safety App function is no longer required.  VIU



Postscripts: Alberta

I mentioned yesterday that ABpse seems to be a bit more cautious than their local or provincial governments when it comes to reopening plans, and here are 2 more recent examples…


Concordia U of Edmonton president Tim Loreman shared yesterday that CUE is planning to be “almost entirely back on campus and face-to-face in September.” CUE will have “very few” online course offerings, but plans to start offering some courses via flexible (blended) delivery. A detailed plan should be available later this month, but some PHO directives (such as masking and distancing) will remain in place.  CUE


“The partial adoption of a blended delivery model could be the basis of positive change, one that not only enhances flexibility of instruction but also improves teaching and learning at CUE.” Tim Loreman, President & Vice-Chancellor, Concordia U of Edmonton



uLethbridge announced Monday that it is “committed to a full reopening of its Lethbridge and Calgary campuses for the Fall 2021 semester, to support in-person learning, research, and services.” uLeth is going “beyond” directives of city and provincial authorities, keeping masks mandatory “in locations that demand multiple-person occupancies such as classrooms, labs, meeting rooms, and relevant studio space.” Elsewhere, masks and social distancing will be “strongly encouraged” but not required.  Lethbridge News Now


“We understand this may go beyond the City of Lethbridge’s and Government of Alberta’s directives, but we are determined to maintain the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.” uLethbridge statement




Fall in Saskatchewan

Back on May 10 and Jun 1, I summarized some early SKpse announcements that emphasized an even more cautious approach than ABpse, treating the Fall 2021 term as a “transitional” one before a return to more normalcy in Jan 2022. If I had to wager, I’d still say this is the safer bet than getting back to normal in cold and flu season this Fall, and certainly it has meant very little backpedalling has been required so far…


Parkland & Cumberland Colleges announced in early May plans for a safe return to F2F learning for Fall. “While our plan is to get back to on-campus instruction, blended learning will continue to be a key part of our institutions, providing flexibility and fostering innovation as we serve learners across our region.”  Education News Canada


uRegina said in early May that it was planning for a “staged reopening” of campus this fall, welcoming back as many people as is safe “with increased options for in-person teaching and learning.” The Fall semester “will be as a transitional one” with “near-normal operations” in Winter 2022. Last Friday, UR’s new president, Jeff Keshen, affirmed that UR will “transition to more in-person classes and extra-curricular activities in the Fall (with the aim of returning to full in-person operations by the Winter semester).” He regrets that “so much of what defines the university experience was on hold over the past year,” and encourages students to “get involved on campus,” in community volunteerism, and international exchange (when possible).  uRegina


uSaskatchewan first indicated in early March that the Fall 2021 term would be a transitional one, reiterated in early May by president Peter Stoicheff. “We will likely not complete our full transition out of pandemic operations until at least January 2022.” In mid-May, uSask was “anticipating that most offerings will be in person and that most students will have in-person activity” this Fall, “but it will not be all.” UofS is still referring to the Fall term as “transitional,” and some classes and services will be offered remotely. Residences and food services are expected to open up, but masks will still be required and large gatherings avoided. Athletics will continue, but with less high-risk activity and fewer large events. “It’s going to feel much more normal than it has for the past year,” but campus life won’t return to “close to normal” until January.  Saskatoon Star-Phoenix  |  CBC


Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced early in May that it would be “safely reopening campus to more students and employees” this Fall. Programs listed as on-campus “will be primarily but not necessarily fully on campus.” Later in the month, SKPoly clarified plans to increase the number of students on campus this Fall, while continuing with hybrid delivery of programs. Currently ~35% of students are on campus at any one time, and come Fall “we are expecting… closer to 50-55%.” Fall will see a gradual transition towards full reopening of programs and services, likely with some controls over density and distancing.  Global



Fall in Manitoba

In general, Manitoba colleges and universities are also taking a cautious, blended approach to the Fall term. (Brandon U is talking “shades of grey.”) Here are some of the latest announcements…


Assiniboine CC says it will be taking a blended approach to the Fall term.  CBC


Brandon U announced yesterday that it is “cautiously moving to the mid-range Phase Grey” in its reopening plan – starting in a “dark grey” mode, and moving to “light grey” this Fall as the PHO permits. President David Docherty told the General Faculty Council on Monday that “this is a time of transition as we get ready for a partial return to in-person instruction this fall.” BU says it will be taking a blended approach to the Fall term, allowing in-person classes of up to 25 students. “Even though we have small classes and we pride ourselves on that, some of our first-year classes are 100 or more. We couldn’t comfortably do that social distancing.” Music programs, for instance, will likely be entirely F2F.  Brandon U  |  CBC  |  CTV


“Phase Grey will start in a ‘dark grey’ mode [immediately]… [This Fall] the University [may be] able to move into a ‘light grey’ mode, or even into Phase Gold.” Brandon U announcement



uManitoba is moving forward with a “phased reopening” for the Fall, with a blended approach to delivery and in-person classes of 2-20 students, and labs of 25 or fewer.  CBC  |  CTV


UC of the North says 43% of its courses will be offered F2F this Fall (105 courses out of 243), with priority given to those that require hands-on instruction or are best delivered in person (such as Nursing and Carpentry). In all, 505 students will experience some level of F2F instruction.  CBC  |  CTV


Providence UC has been planning since March to offer a “near-normal” academic experience this Fall, with a “full return to campus living and learning in September.” (In late October, Providence was forced to pivot from blended delivery to fully online.) “We expect that there will be more opportunities for recreational and social gatherings as Manitoba Public Health continues to loosen its restrictions. We’re already planning a robust Welcome Week with lots of fun, outdoor activities including bonfires, pizza parties, Prov Cup games, varsity soccer games, an ice cream social and live concert.”  Prov


Red River College is planning a blended Fall term, “a mix of online and in-person learning,” but services and supports will remain “flexible and responsive,” to be expanded should health restrictions ease further. RRC is offering employees up to 3 hours paid leave to get vaccinated, and an additional 3 hours to get a dependent vaccinated.  RRC


U Saint-Boniface says 35% of its students will be back on campus this Fall, the maximum it could accommodate on campus if social distancing is still required.  CBC


uWinnipeg says 42% of its courses will be offered F2F this Fall, with priority given to those that require hands-on instruction or are best delivered in person. UW hopes to offer the majority of courses in Winter 2022 as F2F classes.  CBC  |  CTV



As we move eastward to Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada there remain far more announcements than I can cover in a single issue tomorrow… so this may spill over into next week. Sorry that my own spring conference schedule was so hectic I didn’t get to this even sooner!




“Informed Optimism” in the East

Today I want to continue with my coast-to-coast survey of Fall announcements, but (as you can imagine) the scores of Ontario institutions are a disproportionate amount of the work – so I want to leave that for next week. Instead, let’s jump to Quebec and Atlantic Canada today.

This survey is not 100% comprehensive, I confess, but includes all the announcements that have hit my radar since Jun 2 (“the Rocky Road to Fall”). Remember, you can also check out my complete coverage since Feb 24 in the Insider Recap, “Plans for Fall 2021,” or capsule summaries in my COVID Spreadsheet (column AD).



Fall in Quebec

On May 31, as the vaccine rollout achieved its 75% first-dose goal early, the provincial government announced its directives for a return to campus by September, either with or without 1m physical distancing in classrooms and common areas (depending on vaccination targets). As a result, institutions have been making tentative announcements that toe the line…


CEGEPs across Quebec will be able to return students to “normal schooling” if the province achieves 75% full vaccination for 18-29-year-olds by the end of August – but currently they are at just 67/12. (In Montreal, 72.8% of 18-29-yos have their first dose.) The alternative will be a return to hybrid instruction, with first-year students given priority for F2F learning. CEGEPs have been pushing pro-vaccination information campaigns on social media, websites, and in mainstream print and radio. The province’s PSE minister has emphasized that vaccine mandates will not apply to higher ed, an “essential service,” but new initiatives to encourage vaccination were to be announced yesterday – including walk-in vaccination clinics on beaches.  CBC  |  Le Journal de Montreal


Concordia U advised students in early June to anticipate “a vibrant fall term marked by a return to many on-campus activities,” and to secure housing in Montreal for September. Course delivery will be a combination of in-person and remote, whether synchronous or asynchronous. (Some courses will be offered online or blended: Concordia is “refining the permanent place of its online learning offerings because it sees the benefits of this mode of delivery for all students.” Accommodations due to health concerns will need to be determined on an individual basis.) Provided that 75% of Quebecers 16+ are fully vaccinated by Aug 31, masks will become optional and universities will no longer be subject to distancing requirements.  Concordia


McGill U held a virtual town hall Jun 2 in which deputy provost Fabrice Labeau explained that McGill is now focusing on its “Realistic” scenario (1m distancing, masks, limiting non-essential gatherings) with the expectation that it could ramp up into the “Optimistic” scenario near the start of term (no distancing, few restrictions on activities or gatherings). Either way, all students should be in Montreal for F2F classes and at least 65% of all academic activities – although lectures to 150+ students will remain online. (In the Optimistic case, rooms would be used without distancing, and up to 80% of academic activities would occur in person.) McGill’s RTC timeline anticipates supervisors working on campus at least 30% in July, and support staff working on campus “occasionally” in July and at least 30% in August. Labs will increase to 65% capacity in August, and “all students and instructors” will be on campus starting in September. All admin and support staff will progressively return to 100% on campus work by October, “with the Interim Flexible Work Arrangement available for eligible staff.” (Last week, associate provost Chris Buddle shared a 4-min video to depict the return to campus and address some anxieties.)  McGill


Quebec Student Athletics (the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec) announced the resumption of sports activities for the Fall last week – although contingent on PHO endorsement. Football training camps were expected to begin in early August, with the season commencing Aug 28. Modified divisions, created last year according to COVID19 “colour zone” lines, will be continued as a precaution. Rugby is the one sport that might need to be modified, because the typical “scrum” could pose a disease transmission risk.  Le Journal de Montreal



Fall in New Brunswick

The premier of NB announced the first step on the “path to Green” back on Jun 15, as 75% of eligible residents 12+ had received at least one dose of vaccine. The announcement prompted NB universities to update their communities as well…


UNB entered phase 2 of the “path to Green” on Jun 15, and is advising students to expect the “majority of classes” this Fall to have an in-person component. The update from Mar 23 indicates that courses may be offered in-person, virtually, or using a combination of both. Larger lecture classes may be kept virtual due to capacity restrictions. Otherwise, UNB’s public announcements seem merely to point to provincial ones. (NB hopes to enter phase 3 on NB Day, Aug 2, provided that 75% of residents 12+ have received their second dose of vaccine.)


St Thomas U president Dawn Russell announced Jun 14 that >65% of its BA courses will be delivered in-person starting Sep 8, “along with numerous remote options” and “remote access accommodation available for students not able to return to campus in September due to extenuating circumstances such as travel restrictions or a medical condition.” Students “who are able” should plan to return to Fredericton, and all students should schedule their time as though remote courses are synchronous. Student services will be provided both in-person and remotely, and both residences and food services will be operating. Education and Social Work programs will be entirely F2F. “Our hope is to return to fully in-person classes and operations by January.”  STU



Fall in Nova Scotia

Dalhousie U speaks of “informed optimism” driving its Fall planning, which is based on a provincial framework that will apply to all NS universities…


Dalhousie U provost Frank Harvey assured students Jun 8 that Dal’s plan for Fall is becoming clearer as NS reopens and vaccinations roll out, “reinforcing our confidence in returning to on-campus learning in September.” Dal plans to offer most courses in person (with “a small number” continuing online) and to resume most on-campus events and services. Residences will be open on a single-occupancy basis. Masks and 1m physical distancing may still be required or recommended, depending on PHO guidance. “While vaccination will not be required to return to campus, we will be actively and enthusiastically encouraging, promoting and helping make vaccination accessible to everyone.” Also Jun 8, Harvey updated staff and facultywith more detail, all the while empathizing that “with increased clarity, the remaining uncertainty can seem even more frustrating.” Dal has reviewed ventilation in 600+ learning spaces and will be making improvements to 53 of them, including wall-mounted Hepa filtered air cleaners.


“Dalhousie is strongly encouraging, promoting and helping make vaccination accessible to everyone in our community. While we will not require vaccination to be on campus, helping Nova Scotia reach its vaccination targets is an important part of our collective re-opening.”Frank Harvey, Provost, Dalhousie U



Dalhousie residences may be in short supply this Fall, as it has reduced capacity to 80% (1,800 spaces, instead of 2,300), to set aside spaces for quarantine and accommodate additional single rooms. Priority is being given to first-year students entering directly from high school, and those already living in residence. Some 500 students were apparently emailed Jun 17 with the bad news, and are scrambling to find off-campus housing in a very competitive market. Tiny bachelor apartments in Halifax are reportedly going for $1,200+utilities, while residence rooms at Dal are as little as $1,050. One student is reportedly considering an extended-stay hotel, or even living in a converted van. One parent wonders whether residence capacity could be increased if Dal joined other CdnPSEs in requiring vaccinations.  CBC


Mount St Vincent U’s interim AVP student experience, June Lumsden, wrote students Jun 30 that “the majority of courses will return to in-person on-campus delivery this fall, with an increase in online course options too for those who may need or choose to study online.” Student services are “taking a phased approach” to return to campus between now and September, with in-person appointments starting Aug 4. Residences will be open with single rooms. Students can expect physical distancing and traffic management to continue, longer running times for ventilation, and (likely) masks required in classrooms and common areas.



Fall in PEI

I haven’t noticed new announcements from PEI institutions since the ones I reported previously…


Holland College promised full-time on-campus classes for all students this fall (as of Mar 12), although class sizes will be smaller and masks will still be required indoors. Students and faculty will be divided into cohorts of up to 50, and scheduled to minimize interaction between cohorts. Some blended learning will be provided too.  CBC


UPEI said it is planning a return to a “more normal” academic experience this Fall (back on Feb 24). Some online options will continue, but with as much F2F as possible. A survey of UPEI students found significant mental health and academic challenges during emergency remote instruction. (Summer session will remain largely online.)  CBC



Fall in Newfoundland

I have to admit, the comms team at MUN has been one of the most prolific in the country over the past 2 months, at least based on the publicly-available materials designed to assist with the return to campus…


Memorial U of NL has issued a series of updates on Fall 2021 over the past month. On Jun 1, a return to campus for all employees was announced for Jul 13, “to support the return to primarily in-person teaching and learning for fall semester 2021.” A “density calculator” was available to determine maximum capacity of on-campus spaces, and masks were still required in public/common areas. On Jun 4, MUN’s RTC plan was specifically connected to the province’s Together Again plan, which “calls for organizations to begin gradual return to offices and work places from Jun 15–Jul 1.” (NL’s plan has perhaps the prettiest branding in the country, I have to say.) On Jul 6, MUN reiterated that students should plan to be on campus this Fall, even though classes of 100+ would continue to be delivered remotely. (Labs, tutorials and small seminars will be F2F, and even remote courses may have some in-person components.) Most student services will be delivered on campus, “although in some cases some services may remain remote.” Also on Jul 6, employees were reminded of health and safety procedures, and advised that “as of Jul 1, the university has adopted new density levels in alignment with the province’s next stage of reopening” (52 sqft now, and likely 30 sqft per person as early as Aug 1). MUN also released a Guide to Campus Recovery, an Employee RTC Plan, and a Guide to Living with COVID19 in our Campus Communities. (There have also been a series of videos released on YouTube, including an RTC vid from Greg McDougall, an Employee Town Hall Mar 9, a Student Town HallMar 12, and an Employee Town Hall Jun 2.)


“Some hesitancy and anxiety is perfectly normal. We’ve been living with COVID for over a year and changing our daily activities can be hard. I want to assure the university community that every effort is being made to ensure a safe environment.”Greg McDougall, Chief Risk Officer, Memorial U



Atlantic Athletics


Atlantic U Sport announced Jun 9 that athletics will “return in full” this September for its 11 member universities. (The 2020-21 season and championships were cancelled due to the pandemic, except for some exhibition play.) Football, soccer, rugby and cross-country will begin in September, with winter sports to follow. (The football schedule, which would normally begin in August, will be modified.) “We are optimistic that things will continue to go in the right direction, and that our student-athletes will be back on the field of play this fall.”  CBC





Back to Normal*

Just as I have been collating hundreds of announcements from Ontario PSEs about their plans for Fall, the Ontario government has turned the tables, by (belatedly) joining its BC and Alberta counterparts…


Full Return in Ontario*

A Jul 16 memo from Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities directs ONpse to prepare for all in-person classes and activities to resume this September, without capacity limits or physical distancing requirements. (Masks will still be required for indoor settings, and the province is encouraging rapid testing of asymptomatic people, as well as wastewater surveillance.) But the asterisk* indicates that institutions must also establish a “continuity of education” plan, should COVID19 outbreaks disrupt in-person learning. Detailed guidance on masks, screening and cleaning will follow in early August.  CBC  |  CTV


“While we must remain vigilant and responsive to the trajectory of COVID19, I am optimistic that the sector will resume many of the cherished in-person experiences that have been on pause for so long.”Shelley Tapp, Deputy Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ontario



“Barring Catastrophe”

A new science brief from Ontario’s COVID19 Science Advisory Table, and physicians from children’s hospitals across the province, emphasizes that K-12 students must return to classrooms in September, barring “only the most catastrophic of circumstances.” 19 weeks of remote learning in the past academic year has exacerbated educational inequities, reduced physical activity and social interaction, and increased risks to mental and physical health for students. The report recommends that students should stay home when sick and potentially wear masks, but that physical distancing would not be required in schools with adequate ventilation, cleaning and hygiene initiatives in place.  CBC


Doubts at Conestoga

Conestoga College president John Tibbits has demonstrated admirable caution from the very beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, often resisting the temptation to optimism that led other CdnPSE leaders to flip-flop on premature announcements. So perhaps it’s not surprising that he is also among the first to express some skepticism about the province’s directive for a full return to normal just 6 weeks from now. “That’s an interesting memo, it gives us freedom, but… it’s not that simple.” The balance between vaccinations and variants (which I summed up Monday in “Wildfire in Dry Timber”) still leaves many experts warning of a September surge in the pandemic. “I think it’s unlikely, despite that memo, that we could bring 25,000 people back on-campus full-time in the fall… Unless someone’s prepared to say everyone needs to be vaccinated.” Kitchener Today


Of course, the prospect of a full return to class without social distancing or capacity limits has many ONpse workers concerned, and is intensifying the pressure to mandate vaccination on campus…




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